The Plant-Based Special June 2024

Each month the Sharp team saves you time by rounding up some of the latest trends from the world of food and drink.  Here’s our snackable round-up of insights and product news that the Sharp team have spotted while out and about at industry events.


Plant-based brands set their sights on ‘flexis’ and ‘open omnivores’


This month saw some of the Sharp team join veg-net, the inaugural plant-based event connecting industry buyers and brand founders on Wednesday 5th June 2024.

AJ chaired the keynote session, delving into how the plant-based category can broaden its appeal to mainstream consumers, highlighting opportunities for growth and top tips for start-up brands looking to capitalise on these. The keynote panel of industry experts included:

  • Ben Davies, CEO of Vypr
  • Melissa Bradshaw, editor of The Plant Base
  • Jacob Linden from Kale United, the leading plant-based investor in the Nordic region;
  • Katie Cross, senior buyer from Ocado Retail. Chaired by food and drink PR and marketing consultant

Key Takeaways

Key takeaways from the panel included:

  • Katie Cross: brands pitching to retailers should cover off innovation, ease of purchase, and no risk to supply as key elements of their pitch.
  • Melissa Bradshaw: having a high-quality product and fulfilling the consumer need for great taste are both key. Branding is also super important to build authenticity.  A brand that is doing this well is THIS.
  • Jacob Linden: position everything that you do from an investor’s perspective.  Brands should demonstrate that they know their market, positioning and price.
  • Ben Davies: don’t underestimate the time, emotion, investment it will take to build a brand.


AJ also chaired a research and insights panel, discussing new research from Plant Futures, conducted in partnership with Vypr and commissioned exclusively for veg-net.

Kym Zielinski outlined three key findings to broaden plant-based appeal:

  1. Flexitarians and Open Omnivores are key to growth – There is a mass market audience for plant-based products with flexitarians and open omnivores representing more than two thirds of the total consumer market and offering the biggest opportunity.
    • It was revealed that more than half of these two groups had purchased a plant-based meat and dairy alternative product in the last six months.
    • Vegans make up just 11% of the total consumer market.
  2. Taste is primary – tastiness persuades shoppers to purchase and is the primary driver of choice.
    • Taste, price and health benefits were identified as the top three considerations for all shoppers.
    • Understanding the different motivations for each segment of shoppers is key to influencing purchasing: Open Omnivores are also influenced by point of purchases nudges and flexitarians are motivated to seek out products that help them reduce meat consumption and deliver environmental benefits.
  3. On-pack messaging matters – familiar, delicious, or fresh cues on packaging will increase appeal, for example:
      • Brand logo and colours provide familiarity.
      • Emphasise tastiness with food led imagery.
      • Allow the consumer to see the product which signals quality and freshness.

Spotted at veg-net!

We loved discovering some delicious new plant-based foodie finds at the event:

  • Super Foodio’s peanut butter chunky buttons and fresh off the production line….Better Cups – the world has been waiting for this incredible sweet treats. They deliver on taste, plant protein, clean ingredients and they’re ticking the permissible indulgence box.  If you’re a peanut butter and jam/jelly fan we predict that you’re going to be Super Foodio obsessed!
  • Nourish – another brand ticking the pleasure without guilt boxes. Founded by nurse and functional health practitioner Ineke, the brand’s brownie snacking range and frozen coconutty bars are shaking up the ambient, chilled and frozen snacking aisles with some seriously delicious protein packed chocolatey treats that more than satisfy your sweet tooth cravings
  • Piqi – a naturally fermented, sparkling water kefir. Brewed with only finest organic ingredients and packed with billions of live gut-friendly cultures.  A rainbow of colours, the range features some ingredients, tastes light and refreshing and delivers all the goodness.
  • Vegan Patty Lady – mouthwatering savoury patties that deliver meaty flavours from the Caribbean using only plant-based ingredients.
  • Wildly Tasty – vegan kids and family meals packed with premium plant ingredients that deliver on nutrition and taste.
  • Better Nature Tempeh – we tried the Mediterranean marinated tofu and gave it a big thumbs up – an easy meat alternative that’s full of flavour and gives you a good introduction
  • Plantside Vegan Yorkshire Puddings – all vegans need to know about Plantside’s incredible plant-based Yorkshire Puddings – you’ll never have Yorkshire pudding envy at Sunday lunch again!
  • Saving Nemo – check out their range of vegan tartar, seafood and curry sauces to pimp your vegan fish and chippy teas.
  • Tofurky – watch this space to see this brilliant US brand on UK supermarket shelves very soon.


Social media trends

Pimping your noodles involves creatively enhancing instant noodle dishes, often with a variety of flavourful and visually appealing toppings. The idea is to elevate the basic instant or plain noodles by adding ingredients like meats, vegetables, eggs, broths, sauces, and even unconventional toppings to create a more gourmet and personalized meal.

Air fryer recipes show no sign of slowing down as the air fryer’s popularity continues as a convenient and healthy way to cook food. Popular air fryer recipes include crispy chicken wings, zucchini chips, and coconut shrimp. These dishes benefit from the air fryer’s ability to create a crispy texture without the excessive oil used in traditional frying methods. For more adventurous cooks, recipes like air fryer ground beef Wellington and calamari provide a gourmet twist on classic dishes​. Another popular trend is making quick and easy snacks like pizza rolls, buffalo chicken egg rolls, and twisted bacon, which are perfect for parties and sporting gatherings​

Summer spritzes are still not going away! The Hugo Spritz is the new Aperol and is poised to be a standout in 2024. Made with elderflower liqueur, Prosecco, and soda water, it offers a refreshing, floral alternative to the classic Aperol Spritz. Also, look out for coffee cocktails beyond the popular Espresso Martini.

Have you listened to the Sharp PR Bites podcast?

Have you checked out the new SHARP Bites podcast, specifically to help new start-ups?

Sharp PR Bites is dedicated to demystifying the world of Public Relations and Reputation Building, with top tips and insights from the food and drink industry. AJ and Claire got together in our studio for the first ever episode talking about what makes great PR, now available on Spotify, Audible, Apple podcasts, Podbean, and other platforms.


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